Rab Windveil Jacket Review
Cons: Elastic wrist enclosures a little loose, stuff pocket made of vulnerable mesh.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Windveil Jacket by Rab has an optimal set of features and design characteristics that had it ranked at or near the top in every category that we rated in this review. While it was merely average at wind resistance compared to the competition, it still does a superb job blocking the wind. Its stretchy fabric weave both fits great, with a sleekness that is ideal for high-energy activities, and also leaves enough room for a thin warmth layer underneath. Not only does water vapor transfer through the fabric itself, but opening the front zipper all the way and utilizing the mesh-lined pockets will help air you out should you get too hot. We liked the front chest button that holds the jacket together should you need to fully unzip, as well as the hood stow buckle that can be manipulated with the jacket on. Both of these features are found on very few other jackets we tested. And as we mentioned above, the Pertex DWR fabric not only works better than any other DWR coating we tested, but can never wear off, because there is no coating. All in all, this was clearly the best jacket out of the 10, which is why we rated it so highly and gave it our top award.
Rab claims that their Pertex Microlight fabric "cuts virtually all wind while allowing moisture to pass through." After months of testing, we would have to agree with that statement. In fact, Rab's ability to design this jacket to be so highly wind resistant and breathable is one of the reasons it ranks at the top of our chart. We found that air passed through the lightweight, stretchy fabric at about the same rate as the Outdoor Research Tantrum II or the Patagonia Houdini, slightly more so than the top tier of jackets when it came to wind resistance. When we took it to the top of the mountain to compare head-to-head in a cold wind, it held out the wind better than most, but still not as well as the Marmot Ether DriClime. We awarded seven out of a possible 10 points.
Breathability and Venting
We thought the Windveil Jacket was the single most breathable and ventable wind jacket in this review, making it a perfect choice for any sort of high energy activity that could lead to profuse sweating. The Pertex fabric taken by itself was among the most breathable that we tested, on par with that of the Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody and the Sierra Designs Exhale Windshell. However, it has far better venting features than those two jackets, bumping it up to a score of nine, into a league all by itself at the top of the pile. The chest button, which secures the upper part of the jacket together with a small button, allows you to unzip the jacket all the way for venting purposes while not having it fall right off the front of your body. The zippered pockets are also lined with mesh that allow for greater venting.
Fit and Functionality
The fit of this jacket is nearly perfect, sleek and athletic enough that no bagginess is present and nothing gets in the way, while also just big enough to fit a warmth layer underneath should you need one. The stretchy fabric is quiet and moves great with your body. It has a whole lot of features, most of which work very well. The hood can be stowed by rolling it up and buckling it tight. The buckle works better than the systems on either the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite Jacket or the Patagonia Alpine Houdini. Its wrist and hood enclosures are made of only elastic, with no ability to tighten them. While the face enclosure on the hood seals out the weather very well, the wrists are a bit loose. The two zippered hand pockets sit high enough to not interfere with a waist belt, which is really nice. Overall we gave this jacket eight out of 10 points for Fit and Functionality.
The Pertex Microlight fiber that this jacket is made out of is naturally durable and water resistant, so no DWR coating needs to be applied, as is the case with other jackets. The effect of this fantastic material is that it causes water to bead up immediately and shed off with literally no absorption into the fabric. With no actual coating, there is nothing to wear off with time or abrasion, and Rab claims that this DWR quality will last for the entire life of the jacket. After our test period, we saw no degredation of the DWR properties whatsoever, something we could not say about other jackets we tested. While we rated it nine out of 10 points, the same as the Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie and the Patagonia Houdini, we suspect that it will hold up better over time than those two jackets. One of this jacket's very best features and qualities.
Weight and Packability
Our men's size large jacket weighed 5.3 ounces fresh out of the shipping box. This was a bit lighter than Rab claimed on their website, and good enough for seven points compared to the competition. While it was about two ounces heavier than the Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie, it also had features like pockets that others did not. We awarded one bonus point for packability. The entire jacket stuffs into an internal mesh pocket quite easily that is fastened with two small buttons, is quite small, and has a reinforced clip-in loop for attaching to harnesses. Our only concern is that the mesh stuff pocket seems vulnerable to catching and tearing against abrasive rock if it is stored on the back of the harness and you are chimneying your way up Epinephine at Red Rocks.
The Windveil Jacket is incredibly versatile and will be a great jacket for all sorts of different activities. Due to its superior water resistance, this jacket is far more versatile than many of its competitors. We think it is great for climbing and peak bagging, and also loved using it while trail running, hiking, and hanging out at music nights in the park. It would also be a good fit for backpacking due to its light nature and water resistance. It's hard to think of a situation where this jacket wouldn't work.
The Windveil Jacket retails for $125. This puts it right about in the middle of what you can expect to pay for a jacket that we tested. It is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive. Because we think it is so versatile, and far and away the best wind breaker we tested, we understandably recommend this jacket as a great value.
The Windveil Jacket was the highest scoring jacket in our review and was easy to crown the Best Overall Wind Breaker. Its water resistance is what really sets it apart from the competition, although it is also the most breathable and vent-able, and fits fantastically well. The features it includes work better than those of other jackets, and everything is useful and nothing superfluous. There is nothing not to like about this wind breaker, and we wholeheartedly recommend it to friends and readers alike.
— Andy Wellman